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Robotics for a Better Tomorrow

The field of robotics was established 70 years ago. Early industrial successes were also first seen in the USA and yet today, the USA is no longer the leader in robotics. When the first national robotics roadmap was published in 2009 USA was considered 4th in adoption of robotics for industrial applications such as automotive, aerospace and appliances. It was leading in the world of home robots and logistics. Today, 15 years later, the US is 10th worldwide in adoption of robotics and the Asian market is 5-10 times bigger than the US market. Last year, China purchased 52% of all robots sold. It is no longer evident that robotics is a national priority in the USA.

The field of robotics is at an inflection point. Component technologies such as materials, embedded
systems, and artificial intelligence are seeing exponential growth, which in turn catalyze major progress
in robotics. The field is rapidly changing, both in terms of science progress and new applications.
Robotics will impact most aspects of our daily lives in the near future, from our homes over work to
leisure activities. Already today 82% of the population lives in urban environments, and this is expected
to increase to 90% before mid-century. This will challenge infrastructure, logistics, construction, and
security. All the aspects of manufacturing, services, home activities and leisure will benefit from the use
of automation and robotics.

Societal Megatrends

The societal megatrends are also pointing to a clear need for increased utilization of robot technology. There is a need to reshore manufacturing from cars to semiconductors. There is at present (post-COVID) a workforce shortage. According to the Federal Reserves, there are only seven workers available for every ten open industry jobs.

Without “tools” to increase productivity, economic growth will be challenged. The population is aging 8 hours / day, which over time results in a reduced workforce and a significant increase in the number of people above 65, which will challenge the healthcare system and those desiring to remain in their homes for extended periods of time to continue to have a quality of life.

In a world of rapidly changing technology there is also a need to provide the mechanisms for continued
workforce training to retain and develop good conditions for economic growth. During the last four years, the National Robotics Initiative was sunset and the Congressional Caucus on Robotics was not active (last activity May 2019). National agencies have by now largely uncoordinated smaller investments in robotics. These indicators point to the fact that robotics is no longer a US national priority, creating a risk of long-term challenges for US competitiveness.


● Robotics technology will transform society and is likely to become as ubiquitous within the next
decade as computing technology is today. As it stands, this development will not occur in the US.
As such, robotics ought to be a national government priority (again)
● There should be cross-agency coordination for R&D, innovation and utilization of robot
technology. The need for a holistic vision across industry, academic and government is critical to
the nation
● The Congressional Robotics Caucus should be reinvigorated to ensure appropriate prioritization
at all levels
● There is a need to unify funding programs across agencies to make it easier for researchers,
developers, and entrepreneurs to access these opportunities
● There is a need to consider mechanisms to support the US industry to be competitive across
regions and nations
● Increased attention is needed on workforce training to address the shortage and to ensure
adaptation to new technology



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